Derek Weinreis and Levi O’Keeffe make one heck of a team, whether it’s in the rodeo arena or on the basketball court. The North Dakota […]
Cesar de la Cruz
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There are few things Cesar de la Cruz enjoys more than winning rodeos and ropings, unless it’s spending time with his family. He remembers roping the dummy as a kid with now wife, Arena. They grew up roping together and after winning a couple of Open ropings together, he knew she was a pretty good catch. They married in 2008, and have two sons, Camilo, 4, and Gio, 2.
“My kids are so much fun right now and I don’t want to miss any of it,” he said. “Milo is a real comedian and keeps us entertained in the pick up going down the road. He reminds me of myself when I was little. I want to be the best dad I can be.”
De la Cruz grew up in Tucson, Ariz., and though he lived in town, he always had access to a lead steer and donkey to rope. Cesar credits his uncle, George Aros, a 4-time NFR qualifier, for helping him along the path to professional rodeo. He credits his grandfather for his cowboy roots.
“My grandfather was a really good cowboy. He told me a story about when his father took out to a deep sandy wash to bust a wild horse. He was eight years old. We wouldn’t dream of doing that with kids now days.”
De la Cruz qualified for his first NFR at the age of 22 and now at 30, has over $1,000,000 in career earnings with the PRCA. He readily admits the rodeo life isn’t for everyone and can resemble a gypsy existence. It helps that he’s able to travel with his family most of the time.
“Right now in my rig I have a miniature pony, three heel horses, a pygmy goat, a snake my son caught, and a tadpole that he’s hoping will grow into a frog,” laughs Cesar. “We’re a full fledged mobile petting zoo.”
Currently Cesar is roping with the talented Brock Hanson. This works well for the duo as they live just thirty minutes apart, enabling them to practice together easily. On a good practice day they may run 80 to 100 steers.
Cesar admits to owning a “herd” of horses and is especially fond of his old bay horse, Johnny Ringo. Though he was an outlaw when he got him, his uncle George assured him how nice the horse was. He was just five and little, but tough.
“When I bought him, he was rearing over in the heeling box,” explains de la Cruz. “To get him over it I would run 50 slow steers a day, sometimes at a walk. He’s Doc O’Lena bred and super nice. Horsepower is everything in this game.”
At any given time de la Cruz has at least five horses he could pick up and take to the NFR. Right now he has twelve horses in various stages of training.
“During the summer when we’re going hard, I like to keep three horses with me and split them up in different parts of the country. That way I don’t have to put so many miles on just one horse.”
How much do you practice?
As much as possible. Now that I’m roping with Brock, it’s handy because he lives 30 minutes away so we practice several times a week when we’re home.
Do you make your own horses?
I try to. I’ve bought a few that have been started. My style is a little different so I try to find a horse that’s just started. It’s hard to change an older horse. I enjoy training horses and have done it all my life.
Who were your roping (rodeo) heroes?
Clay O’Brien Cooper is a hero of mine for many reasons. When I was real young Steve Northcott won the world and had a video called “It Takes Two” where he would rope a goat, a donkey and then a steer. That’s how I learned how to rope.
Who do you respect most in the world?
The Lord, Jesus Christ, he is my savior. My mom, my wife. There are lots of people I admire and respect.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
My uncle George has been a major influence in my rodeo career. He gave me the guidance to reach the pro level.
If you had a day off what would you like to do?
Play golf – I’m a huge fan. I’m going to get my boys into it as much as possible. I watch it a lot on TV. I can relate to golfers because they have to travel like we do.
Lonesome Dove, The Cowboys
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Refuse to Lose – I hate losing more than I like winning.
What makes you happy?
My kids and family.
What makes you angry?
Roping a leg or missing for big money;
If you were given 1 million dollars, how would you spend it?
I would buy a place in Arizona to spend the winter, and a place in Montana to spend the summers.
What is your worst quality – your best?
I’m hard on myself and have a temper when I don’t do well. My best is I’m a perfectionist. I like my horses looking good and try to do the best by my family.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Hopefully wintering in Arizona and spending summers in Montana. When I quit rodeoing I’d like to teach people to rope.